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Behav Genet. 2007 Jan;37(1):214-22.

Effects of mild early life stress on abnormal emotion-related behaviors in 5-HTT knockout mice.

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Laboratory of Clinical Science, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


A low-expressing polymorphic variant of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene has been associated with emotional disorders in humans and non-human primates following exposure to early life trauma. 5-HTT gene knockout (KO) mice exhibit increased anxiety- and depression-related behaviors, and provide a model to study interactions between 5-HTT gene variation and early life stress. The present study assessed the effects of postnatal footshock stress on the development of emotion-related behaviors in 5-HTT KO mice. Results showed that 5-HTT KO mice displayed a profile of suppressed exploratory behavior and increased anxiety-like behavior in the light/dark, elevated plus-maze and open field tests, as well as increased depression-related behavior in the forced swim test following repeated exposure to the test. Postnatal exposure to footshock stress did not affect emotion-related behaviors in non-mutant C57BL/6J mice or modify phenotypic abnormalities in 5-HTT KO. Data provide further evidence of emotional abnormalities following genetic disruption of the 5-HTT.

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